The idea to foster might be something that hits you instantly or it could be a slowly growing feeling that eventually reveals itself. However you came to think about fostering, there are many things you need to seriously consider before making the first steps. Some of them you may have already thought about, others may come as a complete surprise. But in every situation a full possession of the facts is essential.
Do you have a strong support network?
By fostering a child you are offering support at the most vulnerable time in their life. However, you yourself will also need support in order to be a successful foster parent. If you have a strong network of friends and family who can help you, it will make the process easier.
Are you patient?
Perhaps the number one quality for any foster parent is patience. At virtually every stage of the process your patience will be tried and tested, so if you don’t think you have what it takes it might not be for you.
Are you clear about what the process involves?
Many people think that fostering is about ‘rescuing’ a child from an abusive situation but this is rarely the case. There are countless reasons kids need to be fostered and being non-judgemental about every single one of them is an essential part of fostering.
Would you be able to deal with the very complex and sensitive issues that may arise in the circumstances where a child has been abused in any way? These situations are often fraught, difficult and involve a lot of anger, which you may need to tackle head on.
Can you put up with interference?
There are many people involved in the fostering process, and they may need to be involved in your life throughout. This will often involve having social workers in your home on a regular basis.
Are you good at goodbyes?
Saying goodbye is a big part of the fostering process. Most foster kids come and go as their situations dictate, so will you be able to welcome them in, care for them and then say goodbye easily?
Do you have your own kids?
If you do, have you seriously considered how this might affect them during the process? This is something that is absolutely fundamental to any thinking before existing parents consider fostering.
All of the above and hundreds more questions are all relevant and need to be asked and answered before you start the fostering process. Only then will you be ready to take the next step.
It’s worth remembering that this article is not intended to put you off in any way but only to make you think about the tough parts of fostering.
To counteract this, it is also worth knowing that for many people, fostering is the best thing they have ever done and completely worth all the heartache and difficult situations it can involve. The positives more often than not outweigh the negatives, which is why so many people keep coming back to fostering time and time again.
To find out more about becoming a foster carer, please visit the National Fostering Agency’s (NFA) fostering page or contact the NFA directly:
Phone: 0845 200 4040